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Balancing carrots and sticks in REDD+: implications for social safeguards

Amy E. Duchelle, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia
Claudio de Sassi, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia; Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, Bern, Switzerland
Pamela Jagger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Marina Cromberg, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia
Anne M. Larson, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Lima, Peru
William D. Sunderlin, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia
Stibniati S. Atmadja, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ida Aju Pradnja Resosudarmo, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia; The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Christy Desta Pratama, Conservation Strategy Fund, Jakarta, Indonesia


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Reducing carbon emissions through avoided deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+) is key to mitigating global climate change. The aim of REDD+ social safeguards is to ensure that REDD+ does not harm, and actually benefits, local people. To be eligible for results-based compensation through REDD+, countries should develop national-level safeguard information systems to monitor and report on the impacts of REDD+. Although safeguards represent a key step for promoting social responsibility in REDD+, they are challenging to operationalize and monitor. We analyzed the impacts of different types of REDD+ interventions (incentives vs. disincentives) on key safeguard-relevant indicators, i.e., tenure security, participation, and subjective well-being, as well as on reported forest clearing. We used household-level data collected in Brazil, Peru, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia, and Vietnam from approximately 4000 households in 130 villages at two points in time (2010-2012 and 2013-2014). Our findings highlight a decrease in perceived tenure security and overall perceived well-being over time for households exposed to disincentives alone, with the addition of incentives helping to alleviate negative effects on well-being. In Brazil, although disincentives were associated with reduced reported forest clearing by smallholders, they were the intervention that most negatively affected perceived well-being, highlighting a clear trade-off between carbon and noncarbon benefits. Globally, although households exposed to REDD+ interventions were generally aware of local REDD+ initiatives, meaningful participation in initiative design and implementation lagged behind. Our analysis contributes to a relatively small literature that seeks to operationalize REDD+ social safeguards empirically and to evaluate the impacts of REDD+ interventions on local people and forests.

Key words

climate change mitigation; livelihoods; monitoring; social impact assessment; well-being

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087